Three Healthy Wrap Filling Ideas

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know my food philosophy revolves around abundance, simplicity and balance. I promote abundance, hand in hand with balance, to combat myths perpetuating restrictive eating habits and the belief that fitness has to be a miserable endeavour. While salad is less boring than often assumed, and we can all benefit from eating more plantbased meals (at the same time as helping a greater ethical cause), you’ll never see me forego an opportunity involving chocolate or the blessing that is salted caramel.

Healthy eating has to be neither boring and restrictive, nor overly difficult, demanding ingredients sourced from Neptune and five hours of preparation time. This is where the principle of simplicity comes in. Whenever my schedule allows, I like to recreate a childhood favourite or bake a decadent treat, but on a typical day a lunch thrown together from fridge essentials is my go-to option. Sometimes, the result is a deconstructed bowl of ingredients, and on others – a wrap or a sandwich.

Given the popularity of wraps and sandwiches as a lunchtime option, I borrowed from the above principles to create recipes which are delicious and convenient without without the downsides of store-brought alternatives. From a health perspective, of course, an occasional store brought lunch is not going to do any harm. On many days, we do not have the luxury of cooking at home, opting for a quick bite on the go, and obsessively avoiding the need to buy ready made food is just as inadvisable as being a foreigner in your own kitchen. We should search for an equilibrium. Moreover, chain coffee shops, supermarkets, restaurants are increasingly mindful of their ingredients and various dietary requirements. But cooking your food (almost) from scratch triumphs as the most satisfying endeavour and gives you the final vote on flavour, portion size, seasoning. Plus, homemade has the propensity to taste better and as aforementioned, need not disrupt your schedule, in particular when prepared in advance.

These wraps are all distinctive in their flavours to aid anyone looking to switch up their lunch, and easy to store in the fridge overnight: either eat them cold, or heat up in a microwave before consumption. They carry all the benefits associated with eating an abundance of plantbased ingredients, pack a generous serving of protein and can be made gluten free. Let me know in the comments whether you end up giving these a go, or if you are more of a sandwich person (although, feel free to squish the filling in between two slices of bread if the latter is the case).

Also, I would like to take a moment to thank you all for 1,000 followers: I appreciate every person who has visited or supported this blog in any way. The ability to help others out there always means a lot to me and I am infinitely grateful for each one of you who has chosen to give me a follow! So yeah, I would just like to say thank you once again – this is not just a number, but a community of people who have displayed an interest in my content and that, to me, is an incredible feeling. You are all wonderful people and I hope you are having the best start to 2018!

Curried chickpea wrap with red pepper hummus and a tahini drizzle

Vegan chickpea wrap recipe

This recipe combines the earthy, savoury flavour of chickpeas with an aromatic blend of spices, the prominent tang of a lemony tahini dressing, leafy greens and everyone’s favourite condiment – hummus, but with a red pepper twist. This combination of ingredients is due to become a long-term favourite of mine. If you wish, you could emit the wrap and opt for a burrito bowl instead. After all, I feel like this creation, whatever you choose to call it, is tiptoeing the fine line between wrap and burrito.

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Continue reading “Three Healthy Wrap Filling Ideas”

9 Tips to Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination As You Write

When questioning whether writing is an art or a science, I can’t steer myself away from a conclusion stating ‘both’ in the boldest of typefaces. It is a craft multiple purposes, from educating and articulating scientific theories, to serving as a creative outlet. A similar multitude of skills and mindsets are involved. On one hand, you have adherence to formal rules of grammar and sentence structure, to certain tricks which distinguish compelling writing from bad, and on the other – an inner flame urging you to serve a grander purpose, whether personal, political or ‘art for art’s sake’.

Writing, regardless of the purpose with which you do it, demands an interaction between motivation and discipline. Dynamism and/or an engaging tone are difficult to achieve without a hint of adrenaline in your fingertips urging you to shift words from mind to page. When, however, a dent looms in your motivation and distractions saturate your immediate environment, discipline steps in and carries you to the end of your final sentence. Striking a balance between the two is the key to maximising the efficiency of your writing process.

How to write productively

We’re all familiar with that worst case scenario: you psyche yourself up to start a particularly tricky article, create a new document, write the title. Suddenly, an email illuminates your phone screen. Unwilling to keep the sender waiting, you respond. In the meantime, three more emails invade your inbox and to avoid unintended favouritism, you pen three more responses. In like fashion, you spend half an hour forcing out two hundred words of you article in between checking notifications and scheduling plans for the evening. Before you know it, a growling stomach lures you into the kitchen. You make a snack. You take the dog for a walk, run a marathon, learn a new language. By the time you return to the article, discarded mid-sentence, your heart drops with the thought: ‘what was I even talking about?!’

From talking to people, including those who characterise themselves as writers, I’ve noticed that writing is likely to evoke procrastination. There are many reasons for this: writing is difficult, involving both sides of the brain. Writers are vulnerable to perfectionism and dread the prospect of producing a puddle of incoherence as opposed to something memorable, enticing, rational. For this reason, you may find yourself taking longer than necessary to produce a written piece. Moreover, losing focus often creates a self-perpetuating spiral of doubt (the more you procrastinate – to either start or reach the dreaded conclusion – the more you question your abilities) and writing lacking flow and/or a consistent tone. Continue reading “9 Tips to Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination As You Write”

Find What Empowers You

Comparison permeates our society down to a subconscious level. We know measuring our own success or value against other people is unproductive, we set goals to focus on ourselves, we try to recognise the unique character of our pathways through life. Yet, this is much easier preached than put into practice. From bloggers who have seemingly mastered the Instagram algorithm to friends with enviable wardrobes and social lives, we find ourselves disheartened by our own relative ‘shortfalls’, because stepping back and observing the bigger picture – the futility of pursuing something superficial – on a day-to-day basis can be a tricky skill to master.

I’m all too familiar with this phenomenon and have been since a very young age. Growing up in Russia, every little girl aspires to be either a gymnast or a ballerina at one point, attending countless clubs and practicing for countless hours in her spare time. I did too, I tried my hardest and aspired to stardom, but just did not have the genetics nor an immaculate sense of rhythm, flexibility or grace required to enhance an audience – as much as I to this day am awestruck by anyone who does. Equipped with the power of hindsight, I know my talents lay in other areas which family members such as my mum and grandma tried to refine, but because my social circle measured appeal through your competence in the performing arts, the length of your hair, the size of your dad’s car, I started life feeling somewhat undervalued.

How to stop comparing yourself to others

Moving to England settled me in a society which is much more lenient, a meritocracy which emphasises social mobility and equal opportunities for everyone. It was a shock to the system. But, ‘young people culture’ is quite similar everywhere, in the sense that children and young teenagers champion certain traits and ostracise those who behave, look or speak differently. Beside the pressure of integration (learning a new language and customs from scratch), I saw myself as inadequate in comparison to people with enormous social circles and girls with a reputation for their external beauty. Once secondary school started, this atmosphere of competition became much more pronounced. I was neither a fabulous extrovert nor gifted with the voice or looks of an angel, and made myself miserable in the pursuit of happiness supposedly associated with such attributes. Continue reading “Find What Empowers You”

Rice Noodle Soup With Vegetables and Roasted Chickpeas

I admire anyone who can get through the winter without having soup at least once. I am dismayed by abrupt days, the onset of darkness at 4 o’clock and trying to find a compromise between dressing like a burrito and sacrificing my comfort for the sake of fashion. Some of my family members may like to swim in frozen ponds, but I certainly won’t be joining them any time soon (read: in my entire existence).

Vegan rice noodle soup with roasted chickpeas

Winter, overall, is a time of contrasts. In December, Christmas lights spark an internal fire to shield you against sub zero temperatures. January is a serene month characterised by reflection and adjustment to the rhythm of the new year, while February allows us to embrace the last remnants of winter while knowing that spring is right around the corner. Bleakness and joy interlace everywhere. You may have to brace yourself against the cold each time you step through a door leading to the external world, or if you are like me – accept that your organisational skills need sharpening when you misplace your umbrella four times in a country which is stereotyped by rainy winters. In response, a drive to create more ‘hygge’ in our lives appears throughout society.

Vegan noodle soup

For many of us, however, tight schedules render intricate candle-lighting rituals and bubble baths an occasional luxury. As a consequence, we must search for simplicities that nonetheless paint our winters in warmer hues: reading a book on the sofa, visiting a new coffee shop, going for a run in the early morning and increasing your body temperature to a comfortable equilibrium. Another technique, however, can be summarised in four letters. Soup. With many foods having acquired a borderline cult of personality on social media (think avocado, smoothie bowls, pancakes), soup deserves much broader recognition for its qualities, despite being less photogenic than a colourful bowl of porridge. 

Vegan rice noodle soup recipe

Vegan noodle soup recipe

I recall frequently eating soups when I was younger, losing interest during my early teenage years before rediscovering my love over the last couple of months , since I decided to up the creativity of my cooking. Firstly, soups are easy to make, and do not demand unremitting attention: you can easily do something else as they simmer away. Secondly, they carry an abundance of health benefits, in particular when a medley of spices and vegetables is involved. And last but not least, on certain days nothing can beat a steaming plate of warmth served with a thick slice of bread, especially as fifty percent of the nation seems to be fighting some fort of cold at that given moment.

Vegan soup with noodles and chickpeas

This soup is peppery, comforting and fragrant, with the noodles helping to soak up the flavours and the vegetables releasing a wholesome, earthy aroma. The chickpeas add an irresistible crunch and deliver a serving of protein – in fact, their versatility and general deliciousness makes them one of my favourite plant based protein sources alongside other varieties of beans. So, yeah, chances are I will still be eating this even as winter gives way to warmer seasons while in my usual contradictory fashion, neglecting smoothie bowls until September. Let me know in the comments if you choose to give this recipe a go!

Vegan soup with vegetables

Rice noodle soup with vegetables and roasted chickpeas

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This protein-packed, vegan and nutritious soup makes for a comforting dinner or an easy lunch on a cold day.

Vegan soup with noodles and chickpeas


Credit: whatismaria.com

Ingredients

  • 1 can (400g) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 120g baby button mushrooms
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 4-5 medium vine tomatoes
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4.5-5 cups vegetable stock (see note 1)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 150g white rice noodles
  • 10-12 zucchini ribbons (see note 2)
  • large handful of chopped kale

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 200 degrees C/ 392 F. Distribute chickpeas over a lightly greased baking tray, covering in the agave nectar and the paprika. Roast in the oven for around 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Finely dice the bell pepper and the onion, cut the carrot into thin strips and chop the mushrooms in accordance with your preference. Spray the bottom of a large saucepan with some cooking spray and add the mushrooms and the onions. Stir over a high heat for around 2-3 minutes, before adding the carrot, the pepper and the tomato paste. Stir for a further 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent.
  3. Add the vine tomatoes and press down to release the juices. Keep stirring for a further minute.
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock alongside the soy milk, the ginger powder, the chilli powder, the curry powder, the soy sauce, the tamarind paste and the black pepper. Bring to a boil, before lowering the heat and simmering for around 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add in the rice noodles and keep simmering for a further 5 minutes (or until the noodles are cooked), stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and stir in the zucchini ribbons and kale.
  6. Divide between serving bowls and sprinkle with the roasted chickpeas, fresh red onions and more black pepper/sea salt if desired.

Note 1: add more if it starts to get too thick for your liking, but I personally don’t like my soups to be too watery!

Note 2: to make these, simply use a vegetable peeler to cut off wide, thin strips from the zucchini.

Vegan noodle soup with vegetables and roasted chickpeas

Lots of love, Maria ♡

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What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

‘Busy’ is a word many of us employ to describe our state of affairs. Some people complain about being busy, for others it is a source of pride. Between our obligations as either a worker or a student, which in themselves demand copious amounts of attention, we have to balance some form of social life, exercise, errands, the occasional bit of ‘me-time’ to prevent burnout. Life in the modern world is increasingly characterised by never-ending to do lists and a search for how to master productivity while leaving room to unwind and actually enjoy the human experience.

What to do when you're overwhelmed

Granted, I am someone who likes being busy. I like a clear goal, a multidimensional schedule that raises the significance of quieter moments. I think many of us can relate to the restlessness which goes hand in hand with unforeseen boredom. However, ‘overwhelm’ is also a phenomenon most of us are familiar with. It signifies the fine line between a healthy level of bustle, and our life coming apart into infinitesimal pieces, making us wish for the power to be in two places at once. You find yourself working 24/7, fuelled by four hours of sleep and oceans of coffee. You question: ‘why does nothing get done despite all of this effort?‘ Perhaps, you have a few projects scattered about, each half way to completion, and you spiral into the trap of trying to do them all at once. In the meantime, empty boxes desperate for a tick loom next to each item on your to-do list and your workload keeps piling up and up and up. Nothing you do delivers a sense of accomplishment or enjoyment. You lie awake at night, cursing the constraints of a 24-hour day and weeks that seem to conclude before they’ve even started.

How to not feel overwhelmed

At such moments, the risk of you burning out or voluntarily giving up is at its highest. Overwhelm is a common trigger of anxiety, insomnia, scenarios of failure and unmet deadlines rushing through your mind. Thus, I would recommend laying down a clear strategy of not only recognising spikes in your daily activity, but also preventing a normal level of stress transforming into something malicious and damaging. As I discuss later in the post, we must also acknowledge that we are susceptible to unnecessary pressure both from ourselves and society at large, learning to distinguish what genuinely requires a sense of urgency within a puddle of things the futility of which you may only recognise with the power of hindsight.

Overwhelmed what to do

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So, yours truly is here to share some of her wisdom, and a few honest tips that may help you plough through a period of overwhelm. Stress, while impossible to eliminate in its entirety (and, trying to do so is counterproductive), does not have to reach unprecedented proportions.  Continue reading “What To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed”

My Favourite Productive Bullet Journal Spreads

I feel like most of us have an ambiguous relationship with bullet journals. We love them because they enhance our productivity, give us a place to track our thoughts and create a feeling that we have our lives together. Yet, we hate feeling like we have to live up to the pretty spreads we see all over Instagram and Pinterest. And for this reason I would like to preface this post with an important reminder: your bullet journal absolutely does not have to look pretty in order for it to be effective. In fact, 90% of my bullet journal pages (in particular, weekly spreads) are covered in unsightly scribbles and take under five minutes to set up in the first place.

The reason for why the photos you see in my blog posts are a bit more presentable is because a) I know they will be going up on my blog and I want to create a pleasing experience for my readers and b) doing cool lettering, doodles and implementing colour schemes on a couple of my bullet journal pages acts, for me, as a creative outlet, which is something I believe most of us need. If you see my revision notes and anything destined to remain hidden from public consumption, you will understand that a messy person like myself with handwriting that can only be described as abysmal needs reassurance that I do posses the hint of artistic competence (lol). What I am trying to say is, do not be put off from starting a bullet journal because an obligation to make it look objectively aesthetic does not exist if this is not something you wish to do.

Now, this post is a collab with Mia, who runs a lifestyle blog called Beautiful, Inspiring, Creative…Life. Not only is she is a super talented blogger with a very unique style and content (featuring many things including productivity, fashion and life advice), but also the loveliest person with an attitude all of us can admire. We bonded over our mutual love for many things, bullet journaling included, and decided to share our favourite spreads used to further productivity and self development. You can check out her post HERE.

And now, let us have a look at some of my ideas, which you may wish to try out if you haven’t already.

1. Reading log or a reading list.

Reading list bullet journal

(Gotta love my attempts to recreate my favourite ‘Brusher’ font, lol)

I know that many people often set themselves a goal of reading more books, whether fiction or non fiction, listening to particular podcasts or watching interesting films. However, achieving this is tricky unless you are keeping yourself accountable. This is the main reason for why you may want to dedicate a page of your bullet journal to some sort of reading list, whether in the form of a space to jot down books you come across and may wish to read in the future, or a more structured ‘to read’ page with tick boxes next to each item. Continue reading “My Favourite Productive Bullet Journal Spreads”

Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu

In between complaining about the cold and longing for summer salads, I sometimes remember that winter is one of the best times to get creative with your meals, and that ‘winter’ and ‘salads’ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, winter salads have become one of my recent go-to dishes. They take full advantage of unique seasonal produce and flavours, delivering a hearty meal that combines the health benefits of eating an abundance of fruits and veggies with the warmth we expect from winter cuisine.

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Salads like this one display how healthy eating has to be neither difficult, nor boring and insubstantial even for an appetite as grand as my own (lol), provided you do your research and look beyond how salads are portrayed in popular culture. The key to making them filling usually involves adding a starchy base, such as potatoes in this recipe, and/or a protein. Tofu has to be one of my favourite protein sources for salads because not only can you cook it in such a wide variety of ways, but it also adds a chewier texture to accompany the overall ‘crunch’ of the dish. And if you aren’t a fan of tofu? No problem. Simply emit it or replace with a protein of your choice, such as black beans, lentils, tempeh… The possibilities are really quite endless.

Vegan potato salad recipe

The recipe whatismaria.com brings to you today (since when have I started talking in third person?!) is luxurious as both a main dish and a side. The subtly sweet, velvety flavour of the aubergines harmonises with the ‘crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside’ potatoes which in turn decorate your home in an aroma you will wish to retain for as long as possible (provided you don’t burn them, that is). Serve this straight away, or if meal prep is your cup of tea – store in the fridge for a quick, nourishing pacelunch.

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Potato salad with roasted aubergines

Recently, a week or so of sub-zero temperatures and even a few snowflakes that melted before their collision with the ground gave way to milder temperatures, rendering anything that is not a steaming bowl of oatmeal or soup somewhat socially acceptable. Hence, I will be eating plenty of winter salads over the upcoming weeks. Let me know in the comments if you give this one a go, and whether you like to eat salads in winter too or prefer to keep them reserved for the summer!

Potato salad with roasted aubergines

Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu

  • Servings: 2 as a main, 4 as a side
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Luxurious and full of seasonal flavours, this salad is ideal as a comforting main course or a side. Serve straight away or keep refrigerated.

Potato salad with roasted aubergines


Credit: whatismaria.com

Ingredients

  • 750g new potatoes, chopped into quarters
  • 1 small aubergine, chopped into thin circles
  • 1/2 block firm tofu (around 200g)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • soy yoghurt, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 20 degrees C / 392 F. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss together in a bowl with the ketchup, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp soy sauce and the lemon juice. Leave to stand aside.
  3. Drain the potatoes and wash with cold water. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the potatoes, sprinkling with the turmeric, the dried rosemary, the remaining paprika and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside.
  4. Cover a separate baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the aubergine slices. Drizzle with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals, until firm and slightly crispy.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, the tofu, the cabbage, the spinach leaves, the cucumber, the cherry tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve with the roasted aubergine slices and a few tablespoons of soy yoghurt.

Vegan winter salad recipe

Lots of love, Maria ♡

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